Anna Doble on journalism in the digital age

Written by Alex Veeneman

Access to journalism for younger audiences is, day by day, becoming increasingly diverse.

Access to journalism for younger audiences is, day by day, becoming increasingly diverse. In addition to the traditional methods of radio, television and the newspapers, many young people are flocking to the internet, social media as well as through mobile platforms to access information, be it the day’s top stories, whether Arsenal made that top signing, or if the Arctic Monkeys are to release another album.

As the content options for youth increase, news organisations are trying to take on the challenge of ensuring younger audiences are catered to, not talked down to. It has become a challenge, where the approach changes with every organisation.

Anna Doble knows this challenge well. Doble, the head of online for Channel 4 News, will soon be joining the BBC to lead the revamp of the online services of Radio 1’s Newsbeat programme. The appointment was announced via Twitter by the programme’s editor, Louisa Compton.

Changed perceptions

In a telephone interview with Kettle, Doble said the Newsbeat brand was a good, strong news brand.

“It is clear, straight talking, and doesn’t talk down to its audience,” Doble said. “If you can translate that clarity into digital, you’ll have won.”

Doble says it’s a nice challenge to turn Newsbeat’s radio output, known for its clear, short pieces into digital. The core things that make it good are there, it’s just trying to turn it into web, video and social content,” Doble said.

As that is considered, Doble says, so has the thinking on the attitude towards young people and journalism.

“Young people have suddenly got devices in their pocket that they can consult,” Doble said. “They can see media in their office, at school, on the go, every day. They want information on their terms, they want to know about specialist topics. They want to know what’s going on. It’s driven appetite rather than the old thinking of young people don’t care about the news.”

There is also an additional change, Doble says, particularly when it comes down to individual interests, which also has come as a challenge.

More access, more information

“The way it’s [media] consumed on the go is the same, but you should think of people in groups with different interests and passions,” Doble said. It makes me feel better about having a young demographic – one that cares about the environment, one that cares about the Premier League, one that cares about celebrities. We need to stop grouping people according to age and consider the consumption habits and interest beforehand.”

Doble adds that it is hoped that more in-depth content can come into play, and allow for more experimentation that will allow Newsbeat and Radio 1 to appeal to that younger audience. Additionally, Doble aims to grow the web and social media numbers to allow for an expansion of the audience so more ideas can be drawn from them.

These changes come as journalism access with younger audiences is expected to change over the coming years, especially considering the change in trust with news organisations, as loyalty to one, Doble says, no longer exists.

“No one expects loyalty in media anymore, but they do want trust. Hopefully a large amount of young people trust them. I trust it because it’s true, it’s not patronising, it had me in mind when it was made – that’s a measure of success.”

What do you think? How has technology and new platforms changed how you consume news? Have your say in the comments section below.

Image: / Flickr